Bulgaria Opposes NATO Fleet Countering Russia - PM
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said both he and President Rosen Plevneliev are against a Romanian proposal to set up a joint Black Sea fleet that will counter Russia's influence.
"NATO ships could patrol our maritime borders only in case of a strong refugee inflow," he added.
Borisov made his remarks at a joint briefing with President Plevneliev and Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev on Thursday.
He rushed to the Presidency for an urgent meeting with the head of state after reports emerged that Turkey had suspended the readmission agreement signed with Bulgaria in May due to Sofia's resistance to the joint fleet proposal, extended by Romania but also backed by Turkey.
Turkey's Embassy in Bulgaria denies claims that the activities stemming from the document have been suspended.
"No-one should doubt our pro-NATO position," daily 24 Chasa quotes Borisov as saying at the briefing.
But he added it was not acceptable to set up the fleet "in the way it was proposed at the meeting with both the Romanian Prime Minister and the Romanian President - we are against it."
Earlier 24 Chasa reported that, while President Plevneliev had welcomed the idea of a Black Sea fleet raised during talks with his Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis, Borisov had vehemently rejected it.
In the Prime Minister's words, "the President and the Defense Minister" are also against the proposal.
Plevneliev for his part said that, while the issue had been raised during meetings with Romanian officials, no decision had been taken.
"Let's stop with the speculations that fleets will be set up against anyone," Focus News Agency quotes him as saying.
He added that, in his talks with Iohannis, the latter had put forward the possibility of a regional initiative within the NATO framework that would involve joint naval drills.
The head of state argued the only thing that had been discussed is a Romania-based multinational brigade that would provide training on a rotational basis and to which Bulgaria could send 400 troops.
He also reiterated that Bulgaria and Romania were to make a joint proposal at the forthcoming Warsaw Summit of NATO, but ruled out it had to do with creating joint military units to target other nations.
Nenchev for his part denied taking on any commitments to participate in joint Black Sea units, but admitted he had been made familiar with the "initiative of Romania and Turkey" by his Romanian counterpart Mihnea Motoc, adding the issue had to be considered at a NATO level.
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